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Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp - 1 day

Hi RS group-

I will be in Brussels for 2 days next month. We are looking to do a 1 day day trip to either Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp. I realize that with my limited time in whichever city we choose we will not get an in depth experience. I am honestly just looking for the groups opinion on which city is best, I know each city has different things to offer. No expectations... just would like to know which city of the three choices would be the best overall. I will have to travel from Brussels to one of these cities.

Posted by
6647 posts

Travel to any of the three is very easy from Brussels - Bruges is the longest at just over an hour, Antwerp and Ghent are 43 min and 38 min respectively. I had two days for day trips and I spent one of those days in Bruges, left early and returned late but it was worth the whole long day, so much to see - even with the crowds that everyone hates it was wonderful and as nice as I expected. I actually got a lot in on that one day. Look at RS list of things to do in Bruges with just one day and see if any or all of that appeals to you.

The other day I actually went to both Ghent and Antwerp, only 1/2 day in each but enough to get a feel for the towns, see a couple of important sights (like the Ghent altarpiece), and wander around a bit. Left right after breakfast and was in Ghent by 8:30, was there until about 1:00, then took the train to Antwerp and had lunch and did some sightseeing until about 6:00, then back to Brussels.

I have a tendency to pack a lot in on my day trips and you may not want that fast a pace, but I just wanted to let you know what could be done. You actually could do 1/2 in Bruges and the other 1/2 day in either Ghent or Antwerp but I personally think that, of the three, Bruges deserves a whole day.

Good luck making a choice. You may have to draw straws to decide.

Posted by
208 posts

Jason: I have not been to Antwerp; but, have been to Bruges and Ghent. My choice would be Bruges but you can't go wrong with either one.

Posted by
4684 posts

If you only have a day Bruges or Ghent would be best for having concentrations of attractive locations in a small area. Antwerp is a more modern and spread-out city.

Of the two Bruges is very tourist-dominated, especially at weekends, while Ghent is more of a living city in the centre.

Posted by
312 posts

While in Brussels a few years back (and with similarly limited time), I took Viator's day trip to Ghent and Bruges and was pleasantly surprised with both the quality of their guide and how much we were able to see in 8-9 hours, getting to these towns and back comfortably by bus. Your Brussels hotel is where they pick up and drop you back, so you don't need to plan local transportation, parking, etc. After an hour's drive north, we arrived in Ghent and spent approximately two hours wandering the streets and seeing the sites. The tour then proceeds on to Bruges for an orientation and walking tour, lunch at your choice of venue (cost not included in tour), and 2.5-3 hours' free-time to take a cruise on the moat, visit De Halve Maan Brewery (excellent Straffe Hendrik beer), visit the plaza and enjoy some chocolate. It was a great way to see/combine both of these towns if you only have one free day.

Posted by
14228 posts

We've done all three - and liked all three - for different reasons. Bruges is a favorite, and we got around the crowds by heading off to interesting corners of the town that day-trippers didn't appear to venture to. Really. Most of them mill about the Burg and the Markt and not around the edges. In the early mornings, we had the streets mostly to ourselves other than a few locals heading off to work. Great history and architecture.

Antwerp is much larger but has its own pluses. We did some wonderful museums there, and had some memorable meals. It has a completely different vibe than the other two but that's not a bad thing.

We landed into Ghent in the middle of a big festival so that was fun!

"Best" is relative depending on personal experience?